In less than a decade, the Internet has completely transformed our lives, giving us access to services so advanced that they might have been mistaken for magic in other ages.
The problem with the Internet as it exists now is that our online presence is controlled by a third party. We exist solely as identifiers on multiple centralized platforms to which we have submitted all of our personal information (name, address, banking details, etc.), which track our every move and expose us to the possibility of our data being sold or leaked without our knowledge, as well as to extremely severe piracy threats. In conclusion, we lack control over our online identities.
The Web3 generation aims to reverse this trend by restoring power to users via the introduction of new technologies that allow data ownership and immutability.
Self-Sovereign Identities (SSI) are at the core of this paradigm shift, which has the capacity not only to define our future digital lives but also to rewire the whole Internet.
Today, our online identity belongs to someone else
In “Self-Sovereign Identity,” Johannes Sedlmeir differentiates between “identity” and “identifiers,” two concepts that are often misconstrued. Certain external entities identify us as citizens, community members, customers, etc. on the Web of today. This is not, however, our “identity.” Those are unique IDs.
When we visit a website or use a mobile application, we are prompted or occasionally obliged to produce such identifiers (which can then be used to subsequently log in). Each of these IDs requires that we supply personal information and approve extensive surveillance. We obtain something in exchange: free access to a desirable service. However, at what cost? What information about us does each provider have? Do we realize that every message we send, every piece of content we produce, and every movement we make is recorded and processed? How many of these organizations have a copy of our financial information and/or identity card?
The great majority of us are ignorant and would be shocked if we were fully educated.
Our personal information and, by extension, our identity no longer belong to us on the Internet, as everything we do is via identifiers, behind which centralized databases store all of our data. Unfortunately, we only exist via these corporate- and government-issued IDs. We may disappear at these entities’ choice. Each of these centralized databases is an enticing target for hackers, which has led to an upsurge in identity theft. Identity theft, for instance, has already impacted one-third of US clients. In 2020 alone, the FTC handled 2,2 million complaints of child identity theft, while 15 million Americans fall victim to identity theft annually.
Changing the Web’s power balance with independent identities
Self-Sovereign Identities is a game-changer because it has the potential to fix the Internet’s faulty structure by putting the user first.
Consider an example to illustrate how SSI works. Assume I want to buy alcohol. In the United States, I would be required to provide documentation that I am older than 21. In the real world, this would be a straightforward matter: I would provide the shop clerk with my government-issued identification card. The government was not alerted, and neither my name nor a copy of my ID was retained by the merchant.
An equivalent transaction is, however, impossible on the modern Internet: the e-merchant would have to contact the government-operated central ID platform to acquire the necessary confirmation. As a consequence, the government would be aware of my alcohol purchase, and the online retailer would almost definitely preserve my personal information (name, ID number, etc.) along with the transaction details. Do we want these companies to know everything about us when all they needed to know was that we were over 21? In addition, many governments do not provide a digital ID service, which exacerbates the problem.
The user, equipped with an identity wallet, is now in control thanks to SSI. This identity wallet obtains a digital identity from government systems, commonly known as the user’s identification certificate. This is comparable to possessing a government-issued identification card. This wallet may now provide a so-called ID presentation to the wine e-retailer, which simply indicates that the consumer is above 21 years old. This ID presentation is based on and refers to the government-issued credential.
SII solves all of the key problems by placing the user first:
The online retailer is in full compliance with the law: the ID presentation has the same level of credibility as the original government-issued credential.
Since the verification was based on an ID presentation given by the user’s identity wallet, the government is unaware that their credential was utilized to complete this transaction.
The user discloses just the required information (whether they are over 21 or not) and nothing more.
Unlike current IDs, SSI shifts control from external providers to individuals, who become the true owners of their identities. Since they may be supplied as ID presentations with the same level of security as the original credentials, service providers no longer need to store sensitive private information like government-issued IDs with SSI.
LEDGER’S DEDICATION TO SELF-SOVEREIGNTY
They encourage any efforts to realize self-sovereign identity.
They are currently the leading Web3 platform in the world, enabling you to safeguard and manage your cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and Web3 value. Shortly, we will also protect self-sovereign identities and enable a new Web experience based on trust, ownership, and privacy.
Ledger has just joined Project Verite, a decentralized identity alliance that allows people and businesses full choice over how, when, and where their personal information is released when trading in the cryptocurrency market. Through their partnership, they want to contribute to the creation of common standards, which they believe are essential for the global expansion of new digital identity services.
Moreover, they have recently released a comprehensive policy proposal titled “How Can Europe Lead Innovation and Win Web3?” They believe scalable SSI solutions should play a crucial role in allowing the EU to take advantage of the Web3 revolution.
The EU’s current system of centralized identity certification and processing is susceptible to assaults and flaws. Large honeypots with important information stored inside designs with a single point of failure make hackers delighted. Instead of concentrating data and authority in insufficient government AML systems, the European Union should aim to empower individuals. Self-sovereign identity is the notion that individuals should store their digital credentials in the same location as their physical credentials – in their wallets. This technology has the potential to improve financial freedom while minimizing financial crime. Europe should embrace and invest in it.
Let’s use SSI to build the Internet we all desire, where we reclaim control of our digital identities and experience actual autonomy.